Pasadena's defense leads to 3AAA crown

ANAHEIM -- As cliche as it sounds, defense does win championships. And perhaps no one understands the motto better than the boys' basketball players from Pasadena.

The Bulldogs held Arroyo Grande to one basket in the first quarter during Saturday's Southern Section playoff game at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena.

They were just getting started, mind you.

The Eagles scored eight points in the second quarter, and with an insurmountable lead, Pasadena had little problem thereafter in a 50-35 victory in the Division 3AAA title game.

"Good defense leads to better offense,'' Bulldogs coach Tim Tucker said.

Apparently so.

On the offensive end of the floor, Pasadena (26-6) did a good job feeding the ball inside to Brandon Jolley, particularly in the second half. The 6-foot-5 junior scored 12 of his game-high 18 minutes in the final 10 minutes of play. He finished 7-of-15 from the field with a 4-of-4 clip from the free-throw line.

"I felt good out there today,'' Jolley said. "This was a big game, I wanted to do well, there were not going to stop me from helping us get the job done and win a title.''

Arroyo Grande (22-9) made things somewhat interesting in the third quarter. Brent VanderVeen scored six points, added three rebounds and the Eagles were down, 27-23, to start the fourth.

Blake Hamilton started to warm up late in the game. He scored five points in the fourth quarter as the Bulldogs maintained a double-digit lead. Hamilton ended up with 10 points and 15 rebounds.

The Bulldogs did not have anyone emerge as the main scoring threat in the first half. It was a group effort, to be sure. Jolley had six points. Hamilton and Ajon Jefferson had five points each. The gameplan worked out well as Pasadena took what proved to be an commanding 10-point advantage at the break.

The Eagles appeared to have some jitters early on. They scored once in the first quarter, on a basket by VanderVeen. Things did not get much better thereafter, unfortunately.

Gunnar Gomez had eight points in the second quarter for Arroyo Grande. Problem was, none of his teammates scored. As a result, the Eagles went into intermission trailing, 20-10.

In the end, the Bulldogs were just that, Bulldogs on defense.

Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.